Kate - Lawrence Shoot

November, 2006

I've always been fascinated by the world of high fashion. Oh, not by the clothes, which seem to get more surreal with each passing season, and certainly not by the lives of those starved-to-perfection waifs who strut the runways of New York and Paris. But even if you dislike the frequently outrageous designs, or loathe the media circus surrounding top models, it's hard not to admire the image makers: the photographers and makeup artists responsible for the slick tableaus and silky presentations that grace the pages of many a high-end fashion mag.

Sadly, I'd never had the opportunity to try my hand at that particular art form -- to seek to evoke desire by the play of light upon a curve, or to prod a purchase decision through a playful smile captured with a flick of the camera's shutter. Indeed, the closest I'd come to photographing a "live model" was shooting blades of wheatgrass in an open field -- hardly an equivalent.

However, all of that was to change in February of 2006, when I was presented with an unexpected opportunity: the chance to do a test shoot with a local model on behalf of Pines International. You see, Pines was gearing up for a series of advertising campaigns to celebrate their 30th anniversary, and was considering building an ad around a "fresh new face" that would personify the health and vitality that comes from using Pines nutritional supplements. "Would I be interested?" Well, of course!

And so began a process that encompassed several days of preparation and planning, not to mention the shoot itself and some digital post-production. There were locations to scout and equipment to be readied, a trip to the salon to oversee some selective highlights for our model's hair ...

Working with Anna was both exhilarating and exhausting: "exhilarating" in that, unlike landscapes or product shots, photographing a model is very much a collaborative process, capable of generating new ideas and new creative possibilities; "exhausting" in that I'd never had to deal with the problems of wind-whipped hair, "blown highlights" on a blouse, or really any of the assorted aggravations involved with photographing a human subject in broad daylight. (Suffice to say, I was extremely grateful for my Photoshop skills and a handy RAW conversion program called Bibble, which enabled me to recover "lost" detail in numerous cases where the sun had gained the upperhand.)

Regardless of the problems that invariably accompany any new venture, it's the end-product that counts, and the test shoot I did with Anna netted a number of useful shots. Within a few days, I was able to deliver mock-ups of potential ads to Pines' creative director, thus satisfying my client.

As for me, well, I'm afraid I'm never satisfied until I've achieved a measure of proficiency in any artistic endeavor. Toward that end, I spent much of 2006 putting together a small studio set-up -- backdrops, lighting gear, and various light "modifiers" -- with the aim of gaining some experience doing portraiture and fashion photography. I also booked a number of additional shoots designed to improve my skills while providing Pines with shots for their new catalog. And, yes, I'll freely admit to being "hooked": working with a live model is a lot more fun than shooting wheat grass. ;-)